By Rebecca Fannin
April 2 2016
his past week, I heard Chen Xu, CEO of the Bank of China, discuss how important innovation is to drive continued growth of the Chinese economy while state owned enterprises diminish in power. He mentioned the disruptive breakthroughs that are coming from such leading tech leaders as social communications titan Tencent and drone maker DJI. He noted that innovation is being driven returnees with degrees from top U.S. business and tech degrees. And he talked about how tech hubs Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing are vying with one another to attract more up and comers to base headquarters in their turf.
In case you missed it, China far outstripped the U.S. in the number of new patent applications, according to the 2015 edition of the World Intellectual Property Indicators. This is the third year in a row that China’s increase has outranked other leading nations.
China recorded 928,177 patent fillings in 2014, trailed by the U.S. at 578,802, Japan at 325, 989 and Korea at 210,292. Most of the growth in patent filings was due to China’s surge of 12.5% compared with a 1.3% increase for the U.S. and Japan at a decline of .7%. Interestingly, Iran topped growth increases globally with a 18.5% gain in patent applications.
Moreover, China has climbed steadily over the past seven years to rank third worldwide for the number of patents in force, at 1.2 million. The U.S. leads with the number of patents at 2.5 million and Japan at 1.9 million.
Turning to specific technology advancements, Japan leads innovation in robotics, with auto makers Toyota, Nissan, Honda leading. The U.S. comes out on top for the most number of new patent applications in nanotechnology and 3D printing. Looking at a longer time span from 2005, China accounted for more than one-quarter of patents globally in 3D printing and robotics, the highest share among all countries.
A look at the Asian region as a whole underscores a shift in innovation to the East. Asia’s percentage of patent applications has grown from 49 percent in 2004 to 60 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, North America has slid from 25.1 percent to 22.9%.